There are verses in Romans 5:12-21 that can help us understand why “sin is inherited” but “salvation is not inherited.” This passage teaches us about TWO MEN (Adam and Jesus Christ) who “acted on behalf of others.” Adam committed an ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE that resulted in “DEATH and CONDEMNATION for the whole human race.” Jesus Christ did a WORK OF OBEDIENCE that allows God to “offer ETERNAL LIFE and JUSTIFICATION to the whole human race.”

We read in verse 12, “Therefore, just as through ONE MAN SIN ENTERED THE WORLD, and DEATH THROUGH SIN, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” This refers to Adam’s act of disobedience when he ate of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden which resulted in PHYSICAL and SPIRITUAL DEATH. God had told Adam, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, YOU SHALL SURELY DIE” (Genesis 2:16-17). The moment Adam ate of that tree (see Genesis 3:6) he DIED SPIRITUALLY (Ephesians 2:1) and he began to DIE PHYSICALLY (Genesis 5:5). SIN and DEATH were then passed on to all men. In other words, “all men INHERIT SIN” and because of sin THEY DIE (spiritually and physically). King David expressed the truth of “inherited sin” in Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and IN SIN my mother conceived me.” The Lord Jesus spoke of this same truth in John 3:6, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.”

Now let’s consider the “WORK of OBEDIENCE” that was done by Jesus Christ. God knew that Adam would sin and bring death and condemnation to the human race so He devised a plan so He could offer men eternal life. It would involve sending His Son to earth to become a Man so He could take man’s place in death and judgment on the cross. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, see also 1st John 4:9-10). The Son of God willingly submitted to this plan for He became a Man (see John 1:1, 14 and Hebrews 2:9) and then He “became OBEDIENT TO THE POINT OF DEATH, EVEN THE DEATH OF THE CROSS” (Philippians 2:8). This was the WORK OF OBEDIENCE that allows God to offer men eternal life and justification. It is NOT “inherited from one’s parents”; it is “given to us by God” the moment we believe on His Son as our Savior. Our parents had to believe on Christ for themselves to be saved (they didn’t inherit it either!) and so do we. Perhaps you have heard the saying, “God has NO GRANDCHILDREN.” This is the truth we are musing on, that in order to be born again and enter into God’s family we have to believe on Jesus Christ for ourselves. John 1:12 declares, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

In closing, I will simply quote several verses from Romans 5 that show us the stark contrast between these TWO MEN and the RESULTS OF THEIR ACTS. I encourage you to meditate on them and see that Adam’s “act of disobedience (which brought death and condemnation) affected all men,” but Christ’s “act of obedience affects those who will receive the FREE GIFT OF LIFE AND JUSTIFICATION by faith.”

“But THE FREE GIFT is not like the offense. For if by one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and THE GIFT BY THE GRACE OF ONE MAN, JESUS CHRIST, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but THE FREE GIFT which came from many offenses RESULTED IN JUSTIFICATION. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more THOSE WHO RECEIVE ABUNDANCE OF GRACE AND OF THE GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act THE FREE GIFT came to all men, resulting in justification of life” (verses 15-18).  (473.3)  (DO)